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Driver behaviour blamed for two mass casualty crashes that claimed 11 lives in KZN

Five were killed in an R34 Melmoth road crash between the Mondlo and Klipfontein turn-offs. Picture: KwaZulu Private Ambulance

Five were killed in an R34 Melmoth road crash between the Mondlo and Klipfontein turn-offs. Picture: KwaZulu Private Ambulance

Published Jun 27, 2022

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Durban — The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Transport has expressed “disappointment” at drivers’ behaviour and called for road users to be extra vigilant on the road after 11 people were killed in two major crashes on Sunday evening.

The department said that in the later crash, in Vryheid near Mondlo, it was reported that an accident occurred between a bakkie and a light motor vehicle. Five occupants believed to be from a light motor vehicle succumbed to their injuries and died on the scene.

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Police spokesperson Constable Thenjiswa Ngcobo said that at 7pm Vryheid police were called to an accident scene on the R34 next to Klipton Dam. On arrival they noticed that two vehicles were involved in an accident.

“Three females and two males were declared dead on the scene while the other people were rushed to hospital for medical attention. A case of culpable homicide was opened for investigation,” Ngcobo said.

A case of culpable homicide is being investigated by Hammarsdale SAPS after a vehicle with passengers overturned on the N3 freeway south bound at Cliffdale. Six passengers were confirmed dead at the scene. Picture: KwaZulu Private Ambulance

In the earlier crash on the N3 in Hammarsdale, 10 occupants, including a child, were involved.

The department said it was alleged that the accident occurred when the driver was trying to avoid another vehicle and lost control. Five people died on the scene and another person died on the way to hospital. The remaining occupants were then taken to RK Khan Hospital and Northdale Hospital.

On closer investigation police discovered that the occupants of the vehicle were copper thieves, as an undisclosed amount of copper was found in their vehicle. A case of theft was opened at the Hammarsdale police station.

Ngcobo said a case of culpable homicide is being investigated by Hammarsdale SAPS.

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“It is alleged that on June 26, at 6pm, a vehicle with passengers overturned on the N3 freeway southbound at Cliffdale. Six passengers were confirmed dead at the scene,” Ngcobo said.

“A 30-year-old driver and three passengers sustained injuries. The vehicle was searched and police found a copper cable. The driver was arrested for drunken driving and possession of stolen property and will appear in court today (Monday).”

Department of Transport head Siboniso Mbhele condemned the behaviour by motorists and appealed to them to abide by the law.

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“We are deeply saddened by the loss of so many people in one weekend. Eleven lives is not a small number and such major crashes are heart-breaking.

“We have commissioned investigations to both the accidents, and we believe that where action needs to be taken, such will be taken without hesitation. The cost of these accidents to the economy is huge. We will continue to increase vigilance as schools are closed for the winter holidays,” Mbhele said.

He extended condolences to all affected families who lost their loved ones on the road and wished a speedy recovery to those in hospital.

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